By Rhys Jones
unified platforms offering data, telecoms and media are becoming the norm in the region’s construction industry
An introduction to fibre optic structured cabling.|~|Marbod.jpg|~|Prestigious developments such as Emaar's Dubai Marina project and Nakeheel's Jumeirah Islands development are among the UAE contracts Systimax is involved in.|~|When a building, be it residential or commercial, springs up from the ground in Dubai, chances are it features copper and fibre optic structured cabling. However, instead of having separate building management, telecoms, data and media backbones many of the region’s contractors are opting for converged systems.
Roughly nine out of ten buildings feature data and telecom backbones but Systimax Solutions, the copper and fibre optic structured cabling manufacturers, are offering a more centralised type of infrastructure.
With a host of contracts with the region’s premier construction firms such as Emaar and Nakheel under its belt, Systimax is aiming to make the most of the UAE’s boom. Martin Hennessey, sales director, Middle East, North Africa, Turkey & Greece, Systimax Solutions, told Construction Week about the company’s hardware and what it brings to a development.
How is your offering actually involved in the construction industry?
Basically, we are a manufacturer of copper and fibre optic structured cabling systems. This is very much involved in the construction industry, in particular in this region because nine out of ten buildings these days are installing telecom/data type backbones within the buildings.
We’re involved in most of the major construction projects from a perspective of delivering services to the buildings and within the actual buildings.
Which projects specifically in the Middle East and the UAE in particular are you involved in?
The whole of Dubai Internet City’s backbone and horizontal infrastructure within the buildings is Systimax. We’re also involved with Dubai Marina, The Hills, the Lakes, The Meadows and The Springs. Basically, everything that is being run through Emaar, which is a lot of the construction of residential properties.
We’ve also got the Commercial Bank of Dubai as a client so we have a very wide ranging customer base, especially in terms of new construction coming through. We’re also involved in hotel projects such as the Madinat Hotel with Jumeirah International where all of the copper and fibre optics have been completed by Systimax.
Do you see the Middle East in particular as a huge growth area for yourselves?
Yes. At the moment in comparison to most of the very developed European countries, the percentages of growth rates here are much higher and I think there’s been a few comments made that somewhere in the region of 50% of the world’s cranes are in Dubai at the moment. The statistic was revealed by a European news channel a few weeks ago and I was quite amazed.
From Dubai we’re managing the whole Middle East region including Greece and Turkey and we’re working on a number of projects around the region, which I would say are similar in nature to some of the work taking place in the UAE.
If you look at the market in general at the moment the huge growth rate, which is occurring around the population or the numbers of visitors to the country, it’s driving the construction sector in many different areas. It’s driving it in the residential, education and health sectors and typically, now we are spanning all of those type of sectors because obviously today, as far as telecoms and data is concerned, very few buildings are constructed without that kind of infrastructure in place.
In the the Madinat development, you might think there is not much as the building is probably targeted at tourist. However, they are still installing a very sophisticated fibre optic and copper network into the components of the building, so that they can give guests very high level internet connections and very good delivery of service from a media perspective, which are all running across a unified platform.||**||IT and the region's construction industry|~|Marbod.jpg|~|Prestigious developments such as Emaar’s Dubai Marina project and Nakheel’s Jumeirah Islands development are among the UAE contracts Systimax is involved in as well as The Lakes and The Springs.|~|What do you think of the use of construction related software throughout the Middle East?
We ourselves use packages within systems like AutoCad to do all of our design layouts for the infrastructure. We have a number of software tools that we use within the company that we find extremely useful. In fact, we couldn’t design without them and again I think it’s an area, because the construction industry is growing so quickly here, that is definitely required to keep pace with documentation once buildings actually come online.
That’s a major challenge area for building owners to ensure that they get the highest standard of documentation. Our products are installed by our authorised business partners and then the installer has to submit the test results from the site to us as a manufacturer.
We then qualify the test results before we issue a warranty. In the case of our telecom related products, we issue a 20 year product and applications and assurance warranty, which we issue directly to the client, so if the building owner at any point during that 20 years has any problem at all with his infrastructure he can come to us as a manufacturer and say ‘what is the situation to rectify this?’
Do you think the use of construction related software is widespread in the region?
Not as much as you would see in a developed country. I think the pace in the growth of construction here is very much aimed at completion on time as opposed to really spending a lot of time on the planning stages where that type of software platforms is typically used. B ut from our side, we are very involved with that [software use] from day one to basically enable us to deliver the warranty at the opening point of the building.
Are you trying to educate the Middle East market about your hardware?
In terms of the hardware products, yes. We spend a lot of time with consultants, contractors and clients and there are a number of things we are working on here [in Dubai] at the moment where we are interacting directly with the client to understand exactly what he wants to do with a building or a development of buildings.
Here you would typically have clients that have a very diverse nature of users within the same complex so you would have maybe a hotel, a residential block and a retail block within the same development.
We’re focusing very much on the clients to try and educate them in terms of creating a central infrastructure.||**||Adding value|~||~||~|What type of value do you see your work adding to a project?
I think that from day one it adds a huge amount of value because if you look at a building on a unified infrastructure you very much look at reducing costs.
In any building you will have a building management backbone, a telecoms backbone and you might have a number of other communication type backbones but if you can converge them from day one and the client is keen to do that then there’s definitely mid to long term cost savings associated with the operation of the building.
In terms of growth rate and with such an operation as yours, can you quantify it in terms of a percentage?
As it stands at the moment, in percentage terms this year we will be in line for somewhere in the region of a 12% year-on-year growth of last year. The number worldwide is lower but this region is growing at a faster rate than the global market.We work on a three year business plan and we see a very buoyant three years ahead of us in this region and you can see by the number of cranes around that we see very good growth in this sector. I’ve been in Dubai for seven years and every year people say the boom bubble will burst but it never does!
There is a lot of money around and if you look ahead of yourself, projects like Dubai Park Land, which has just been announced, the scope of which is very sizeable mean things are looking good. In terms of our business plan here we’re looking at five to eight years as a crystal ball because projects like Dubai Park Land will probably be going over the next five years.
Are you hoping to get involved with any of the Nakheel projects such as The Palm and The World and so on?
As far as Nakheel goes today, we have already secured the business for the Jumeirah Islands project and we’re talking to Nakheel about a wider level agreement at the moment covering projects like The World and The Palm.
The Jumeirah Islands project is official because Nakheel have already agreed to do business with us on that. We will be delivering services across the fibre optic cabling systems out to each of the individual villas and then within the villa we’re delivering services across the copper ETP cabling system, Systimax so basically what we will run across those platforms is all of the voice connectivity, all of the data connectivity for the internet and all of the media content such as the television system. It will all be delivered directly from Dubai Internet City to the Jumeirah Islands area.
The whole project is three phases and the first phase is somewhere in the region of 2000 villas with phases two and three to follow on directly after that. We will be providing somewhere in the region of 20 000 information outlets for the Jumeirah Island project.||**||